Ahmedabad: At least 15 per cent of the candidates contesting in the phase 1 of Gujarat assembly elections are facing criminal cases, including serious charges such as murder, kidnapping and rape.
The analysis of the 923 candidates in the first phase carried out by the NGOs -- Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Gujarat Election Watch -- showed that 78 of the 137 nominees are facing serious criminal cases.
Congress, which is aiming to return to power after 22 years in Opposition, has fielded 20 such candidates for the first phase of the polls, while the BJP fielded 10, the report published by the NGOs showed.
These main political rivals were followed by eight candidates from the BSP, three from the NCP and one from the Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party or AAP.
"Though 977 candidates are in the fray for the 89 Assembly seats going to polls in the first phase on December 9, affidavits of 54 candidates could not be analysed as they were either badly scanned or incomplete," Pankti Jog of Gujarat Election Watch told reporters in Ahmedabad.
The analysis said that out of 923, 137 candidates or 15 per cent) have declared criminal cases against them. Of these, 78 candidates (eight per cent) were facing serious criminal cases such as murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and rape.
Mahesh Vasava, son of former JD(U) MLA, Chhotu Vasava, has the most number of cases register against him - 24. He is facing two of murder and one of attempt to murder, the report said.
Mr Vasava is contesting from Dediapada (ST) seat of Narmada district on a Bharatiya Tribal Party ticket. The party was floated by his father after he left the JD(U).
BJP candidate for Wankaner seat in Morbi district, Jitendra Somani, is facing 13 criminal cases, including one related to attempt to murder.
Congress candidate from Talala seat in Gir Somnath district, Bhagwan Barad, is facing four criminal cases, including that of dacoity, theft and assault, it said.
The first phase of the two-stage Assembly polls will be held on December 9 and the second phase on December 14. The counting of votes is scheduled on December 18.
(with inputs from agencies)